INDEPENDENCE–The Independence defense came up big on Friday as the Blue Devils limited Lutheran West to just two field goals and came up with one interception in a 21-6 victory over the visiting Longhorns.
With the win, Independence improved to 5-2 and 3-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division. Lutheran West found success in the passing game and limited the Blue Devils’ offense, but struggled to finish drives and fell to 5-2, 3-1.
“The defense really stepped up,” Independence head coach Rick Adams said. “To hold that offense to two field goals, that says a lot about the work the defense did.”
Kyle Zygmunt and Luke Clymer each had a rushing touchdown and Michael Tommer threw one touchdown pass to Braden Sears in the win.
Zygmunt picked up where he left off last week and opened up the scoring by taking a Tommer toss 43 yards for a touchdown.
Lutheran West looked to respond after the touchdown as the Longhorns completed several short passes before being forced to punt in Blue Devils’ territory.
After the punt, Zygmunt ran for 26 yards followed by a 20-yard run that set up the Blue Devils on the 13-yard line.
Tommer floated a pass over the defense and found Sears in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown completion that pushed the score to 14-0.
After two punts from each team, Lutheran West was set up with the ball at their own 27 with 1:16 left in the half.
Senior quarterback Austin Kim marched the Longhorns down to the Independence 10-yard line, but the Longhorns had to settle for a 28-yard Hunter Albers field goal to cut the deficit to 14-3 at the half.
“Michael Tommer, on offense, did a good job just managing the game,” Adams said. “He didn’t try to force things. I always tell him we want to end every possession with a kick, and we did that. We took care of the ball. We had a couple sacks I wish we didn’t take, but hey, he didn’t make any bad throws. Kyle Zygmunt, second game at running back, really stepped up. The line opened up a lot of holes for him. Special teams, we had some good punts that pinned them back and it was all around a team victory.”
Lutheran West started the second half on a strong note, as the Longhorns bottled up Zygmunt and forced Independence into a quick three-and-out.
Kim and Luke Sword connected on three separate passes and the Longhorns moved the ball to the Independence 16-yardline.
Kim found a receiver for a touchdown pass, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. The Longhorns were forced to settle for a 35-yard Albers field goal that cut the score to 14-6.
The Longhorns were able to force Independence into another punt on the following drive after a sack by Tyler Seagro.
On the first play of the Longhorns’ ensuing drive, Kim tossed the ball to his running back who found a wide-open receiver for a 49-yard touchdown pass, but the play was called back on another holding penalty.
“I think our effort was great,” Lutheran West wide receiver Luke Sword said after the loss. “You really can’t ask for more effort than what we put out there. We have guys flying everywhere. It’s unfortunate the way it ended up coming out, but we can’t really hang our heads too low because we put it all out there.”
Lutheran West was unable to generate any scoring plays in the fourth quarter.
Independence senior Luke Clymer finished off the scoring with a two-yard score with 1:22 left on the clock that clinched the Blue Devils’ victory.
Tommer finished the game 7-of-10 for 114 yards and one touchdown. Zygmunt ran for 159 yards on 16 carries and scored once. He also caught three passes for 64 yards.
The Blue Devils limited the Longhorns to just 172 yards of offense.
Kim completed 19-of-34 passes for 173 yards and Jonathan Bradley led the Longhorns rushing attack with 26 yards on six carries.
Independence hosts Fairport Harding next week while Lutheran West travels to face Brooklyn.